The citizenry was offended and terrified. The economy went into shock and debts were called in en masse, further aggravating the political and existential crises in the country. The cost of food skyrocketed, people were desperate, insulted, hungry, and angry, and severe retaliation was demanded by almost the entire population.
It was decided among the Senate that broad military authority should be given to a group of individuals, or rather to the most effective military commander and a huge staff of his choosing, and that the criminals should be pursued across the known world and punished for their insolence towards civilization.
The man and his retinue were to be granted the complete sovereign authority of the nation, to make treaties, to declare wars, to exact tribute and reach economic settlements, and to command any resource of the state.
So while punishment and suppression of the anarchic pirates were demanded by nearly every politician and citizen alike, it was also tacitly understood that it was the pirates who transported and coordinated the slave trade. Since many Senators and businessmen were enriched by the industry, the complete destruction of the pirates was a false goal, in that those with economic and political power within the society largely depended on the existence of the industry to preserve their power and pacify the population by providing them with a more comfortable way of living.
So instead of destroying every last pirate and slave-trader, which would be ridiculous, an agreement was reached with the pirates and they were placed under greater control by Roman businessmen and local magistrates, who coordinated legal protection for them as long as they kept their marauding within acceptable limits, and continued to keep the slave trade open. So instead of enacting justice, the governing class, and the business interests, sought to preserve their own power and comfort.
Once again, the emergency powers that were granted to the general to orchestrate the charade war against the pirates were extended to fight the new war against the state-based enemy, an evil, demonized leader who threatened the interests of Roman businessmen in the region, and had coordinated a massacre of them before. He was surrounded and provoked and the monied interests within the administration eventually succeeded in breaking his power.
Roman tax collectors and businessmen flocked to the region, and the treasury swelled. Life returned back to normal and Rome appeared to be safe from all external enemies, only she had wrecked her own Constitution.
During the course of the war against Mithridates, the evil Eastern despot, a few private individuals had followed in the wake of the great general, looking for ways to aggrandize themselves in the midst of the corruption and chaos. Anytime an individual or a small minority is granted all the supreme powers of government, it can be certain that the most ambitious and grasping people will surround them in hopes of gaining their favor and sharing in the exercise of undisputed power. Even those who would undermine their rule.
Under these circumstances, a private individual raised a private army, largely on credit, and carried out a few raids against settlements in the region, largely to extort the population, but also in accord with the general remaking of the region.
That individual's name was Gaius Julius Caesar. And less than 30 years later, after countless businessman and ambitious politicians had grasped for the criminal powers of the perverted Republic, and massacred their enemies at home and abroad, his death signified the end of self-rule, civics, and moral civilization in the West for nearly two thousand years.
I know that the comparisons to Rome are frequent nowadays, and that most of the time they are spoken out of admiration for the military, cultural and economic dominance of the world's sole superpower. But it's worth noting that the destruction of Republican government and citizen's rights, and the descent of the Roman world into complete anarchy, was essentially a suicide, consented to by a democratic majority, and inspired by fear.
Rome had wrestled with many issues that we confront today, such as the enfranchisement of non-traditional citizens, rampant corruption among businessmen around the world, bribery and fraud at elections, and the perpetuation of a large, aggressive and professional military force, which had only recently been instituted in place of a citizen army.
As soon as Rome's military was professionalized, and soldiers did not fight in order to gain a land pension upon retirement, but in order to jockey for position within the military establishment and industry, a professional group of violent mercenaries was always available for a price, and their loyalties were often transferred between the highest bidders.
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